Duck River EMC linemen and trucks are headed to South Carolina as part of a mutual aid response from Tennessee aimed at restoring power to areas hard hit by an ice storm.
South Carolina electric cooperatives are struggling with widespread power outages, the result of freezing rain spawned by Winter Storm Pax. Thousands of co-op members are in the dark and cold.
On Feb. 12 as the weight of ice continued to bring down power lines and trees, more than 100,000 served by co-ops in the state were without electricity. The number was expected to steadily rise as the storm dumped more frozen precipitation.
Some parts of the South Carolina low country received more than an inch of ice and sleet. The main impact of electric co-op power outages was in a wedge south of Columbia to north of Savanah, including stretches of coastal areas.
Snowfall was heavy in other states hit by the southern storm, which weather forecasters said had the potential to be “historic” from the standpoint of power outages and travel disruptions across the southeast U.S.
States of emergency were declared by the governors of the affected states.
Five Tennessee electric co-ops, including DREMC, answered the call for help. They sent 41 line workers to South Carolina.
Assisting in the recovery will be:
- four lineworkers from Chickasaw Electric Cooperative, Somerville
- eight from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Clarksville
- nine from Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Shelbyville
- 10 from Plateau Electric Cooperative, Oneida
- 10 from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, South Pittsburg
Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association (TECA) coordinated the mutual aid. TECA and its members have a long tradition of providing help to sister electric cooperatives in trouble, whether the response is in the Volunteer State or outside its borders.
“We always wait until any outage problems are cleared up in our service territory before committing our crews. But when the call is made, we respond and go wherever the need is,” said DREMC President/CEO Michael Watson.
Other co-op associations reciprocate under mutual aid agreements with Tennessee if in-state damage from natural disasters results in a call for assistance from TECA, Watson noted.
“This is a unique tradition based on one of the Seven Cooperatives Principles,” he said. “Cooperatives helping cooperatives is part of the foundation on which non-profit, member-owned rural electric utilities are based.”